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Friday, July 30, 2010


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Oh, and can we have Moon Ponies, free money and eliminate male-pattern baldness while we're at it? What a pointless contradictory shopping list of fantasy features - which if you add them all together really just amount to Farmville. I hope he'll be very happy there.


If Lum's advice comes true, I will leave SL. I don't need another virtual world full of "Mac user / grandmother" level users. I know it's the basic trend of our world, to make everything "user-friendly", which usually means "stupid-proof" (which suggests that all of us are or should be PC-stupid). But I don't like this trend.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I really resent the "that passes the “Mac user/grandmother” bullcrap.

Some of us with Macs write Applescripts, use UNIX that unpins the Mac OS, and more. We design digital videos and make Web content.

This stupid generalization suggests Windows users to all be code-gods. Given what I see on my campus, ignorance of an OS is platform-agnostic issue.

L. Knoller

Although its nice to know that one of your tips was referenced, it may have been more enlightening to quote what the author thought was important, you know the part that starts: "Third, and most importantly..."

I encourage everyone to read it.

It amounts to: You had best keep your current customer base happy if you want to stay in business, even if youre current customer base are mostly overweight men pretending to be female fashionistas.

the last lines are fantastic:

"Sure, it makes you the laughing stock of Joel Stein, Something Awful and 4Chan. Gee. Given 1 million unique users a month, I’ll take a bunch of internet nerds laughing at me, too. Hint: some of them really, really want to be hot fashionistas.

Ann Otoole InSL

I enjoyed the part right before that list of things Hamlet repeated where he clearly stated SL was not made of fat men playing fashionistas but if it was fat men playing fashionistas then he would recommend that list Hamlet posted. LMAO

He is correct about one thing although he does not spell it out in simple enough terms.

Linden Lab needs to change it's staff into people that care about, know how to solicit and document, and code to customer requirements. And do it using source code control and release management to avoid old defects creeping back from coder hard drives full of obsolete code. Until LL changes it's staff into that it will continue on the down spiral.

This is a prime example of why LL's UI team needs to be changed: http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-1819

When you are searching for something what you do is search and then go visit a few locations. This involves having a list of places you want to visit. So you go to one place and if it is not there or you are a savvy shopper and are comparing prices and quality you go to more. So you open that list again and go to the next one in the list.

Not so says the LL UI team (that brought us a viewer that has driven 70% and growing users to Emerald). LL's UI team not only thinks you should have to start your search over from the top every time but they disregard the customer requirements rather openly.

The only thing LL's UI team is accomplishing is driving more people to Emerald (and to Kirstens for some that like the best graphics).

In addition the search bloodbath continues. Oh and search is not part of the UI team. Search, a core usability feature, is under the commerce team that is closing xstreet to bring the new marketplace that will not be using the GSA system. That makes sense.

So yes LL has work to do. But it is really core stuff. LL isn't going anywhere until they deal with some of what are known as "hard decisions" that involve "mixed emotions".

Guess what? Since LL is not accepting customer requirements... We all just wasted our time discussing this around the metaverse.

Endless "lulz" eh?

Jura Shepherd

...save SL from what?

Loraan Fierrens

I think you may be misrepresenting some of what he wrote. As I read the original blog post, the bit about what he would have done instead of Viewer 2 was what he would have advised to meet the goal of "[producing] an interface that was accessible beyond Second Life’s current hardcore niche of users." The rest of the post pretty much tears that goal down, so far as I can tell, and points to the better goal of devoting your self to your current customer base (maybe I'm reading it wrong as my tea hasn't set in yet).

Since you're such a fan of looking at MMO features and pointing out what Second Life needs to take from them, let's compare the king of the MMOs to those "broadening" steps:

1. Ubiquitous platform: nope, WoW is an install.
2. Low system requirements: I believe the WoW requirements are on a par with Second Life (and to do end-game raiding actually needs more).
3. Minimal download times: WoW installation takes considerably longer than Second Life. Some point upgrades to WoW have been around a gigabyte, if I recall correctly.
4. Very simple UI: WoW's user interface isn't simple and really has a steep learning curve at the start. I recently helped a friend get started and had to explain everything to her about how to move, how to chat, and so on. Just explaining "auto-attack" took a while, and she is an intelligent, computer savvy person.
5. The Guide: I suppose WoW has this, if you count the quests telling you where to go. Even so, they only recently started tagging the map with quest-related destinations. When I started, you still had to go to third party websites to find out what magic pixel you had to stand on complete a task or find a particular item.
6. Opt-in for Facebook: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA! Right. Whatever. Blizzard tried this (or at least the first step), and as I'm sure most of your readers know, the Blizzard's customers did everything but burn down the home office.

So, of these things, WoW does maybe one of them, and yet it's the king of the heap. Maybe success has nothing to do with any of this window dressing and has everything to do with knowing your customers and serving their needs, which I think is really the point Lum was making. That is something that Blizzard really does do well, and dare I say it's something that maybe Linden Lab could learn to do better?

Lum Lumley

> I really resent the "that passes the “Mac user/grandmother” bullcrap.

The definition of irony:


How I read your post that you made on my blog.

I've been a Mac programmer/advocate/evangelist for almost two decades now, in large part due to their hewing to human interface guidelines that roughly boil down to "Mac user/grandmother" accessibility.

Ann Otoole InSL

I think I like this Scott Jennings guy's style. :P

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Lum, Dagnabbit, you got me good on that one. It would still be fairer to say "non-geek computer user" because around here, I have to show most Windows XP and Vista users what is actually in the Control Panels.

Let's face facts: if someone is reading this blog or yours, they are not mainstream users.

While I agree with most of your recommendations, there are a few social aspects you miss as to why the mainstream college-age kids I teach don't like SL or MMORPGs.

I'm working on that post now at my blog.

Hitomi Tiponi

Good points, poorly made.

Lum Lumley


World of Warcraft, believe it or not, is *not* mass market. In fact I would argue that it defines the limits of the standard huge-install subscription-fee MMO model. (That being said they have made efforts to file down the edges of their niche model, such as providing a streaming client install that gets new players into the game quickly and continuing to simplify the core gameplay.)

Farmville/Frontierville/etc is a better description of mass market. It's also very much *not* where SL is - or even should go. I don't think anyone seriously advocates that, even at Linden. A virtual world such as SL is niche-y by definition. Those niche edges can be filed down and the user base expanded - but you still have a core audience appeal of "people who want to explore a virtual world, the implications of anonymity, and the creations of other users with little/no outside guidance". Which is pretty darned niche.

Loraan Fierrens

Agreed, Ann. :-D

One more point, and I'll shut up and go back to work. My personal belief is that the real limiting factor right now on Second Life isn't the user interface, isn't really the lag, or even the customer service. Those all play a role, certainly, but I think the real killer is the basic premise.

For those old enough to remember it, I'll draw an analogy: Second Life is the MMO equivalent of Hypercard. Hypercard was an amazing product for the time, and so far as I know unique. It was hard to describe: was it a database, a game, an organizer? It could do all those things to a greater or lesser extent, but it was really a tool to let you create what you wanted. People did do wonderful things with it (_Myst_ was built on top of it, for example), but to really get the most out of it required vision and creativity. Second Life is really in the same position. It isn't something that fits into a neat, predefined category. At its best, it is simply a service that provides you with a blank canvas to do with what you will; but that requires creativity and imagination on your part (even if that creativity is just the ability to imagine yourself as being of the opposite sex). Second Life won't lead you by the hand, won't tell you what to do next, won't tell you what to think or believe. That, I think is really why Second Life does not now nor will ever have a mass market appeal; most people don't want to think. They take one look at Second Life, and ask "what am I supposed to do? What's the point?"

This isn't to say that the technical issues don't need fixing, that customer service doesn't need improving, or that there isn't value to providing a streamlined viewer. What it is to say is that doing those things won't suddenly make the average Joe interested in Second Life. The average Joe won't see the point of Second Life without turning it into something else entirely.

Loraan Fierrens

Lum, good point on the definitions around "mass market". Consider a suitable global search and replace applied to my comments. :-D

Hamlet Au

Lum, I'm not exactly sure why you're arguing World of Warcraft isn't mass market. I think it's fairly evident that WoW has reached a huge audience who've never played an MMO before. Outside WoW, the upper limit for download/subscriber MMOs *still* seems to be 1M or less. Please to explain moar!

Lum Lumley

WoW is mass market compared to, say, Everquest. 11m vs 400k

Yet compare WoW's userbase to Farmville: 11m vs. 61m

I think WoW proves that 10-12m (and that includes about 5-6m Chinese users who are a completely separate business model) is the absolute upper end of what a subscriber/download MMO can expect.

Now, WoW probably has a greater income than Farmville, simply because 100% of WoW players are paying a fee and only a small subset of Farmville players are. But we're talking about market share, not profitability :)


uh. because in the world of selling SOAP. WOW isnt.

facebook games are akin to slot machines/ meet card games.... count the numbers...count the lotto draws//// and now that online gambling will pay for congressional holidays "legally".. good luck with that "better world " of generation "just one more hand"

game "dezigners" should be kept far away from any civic human activities and projects. the current mainstreasming of the mix of games and life, will end like it has in the past... with many poor and dead...just like the final levels of the medium the script kids grewup up with, and now consider mainstream.

SL/LL has been the perfect lesson in what not to do.:)

it uses a powerful medium to enrich a few, and distract the many. not new, not meta, just sad.

comoro Infinity

... [This is something that all successful online service providers eventually learn (Blizzard’s customer service team numbers in the thousands), and if Linden wishes to join their number, they need to learn that lesson.]... that's the fact... when was the last time Linden came over to you to help with processing that payment that did not go thru? Oh, there wasn't a last time because there wasn't even a first time. Oh, OK. So I guess the reason why Linden is going down the drain is they could not care less about their customers. They never have. And never will.

Bob L

World of Warcraft and "Very, very low system requirements" what intertubes is this guy living on? Second Life, thanks to its 2001 technology, is light weight in comparison to WoW.

Bob L

and BTW Lindens getting all snotty about " fat men playing fashionistas" hehehe Going by the ones I've meet in real life them getting judgmental about physical appearances is pretty funny.

Hamlet Au

"Yet compare WoW's userbase to Farmville: 11m vs. 61m"

OK, so you're saying World of Warcraft is not as mass market *in comparison* to big social games like FarmVille -- that's a fair enough point. However, speaking in broader terms, I think anytime we get into an audience of several million, we're talking mass market.

For comparison's sake, the widely ballyhooed premiere of this season's "Mad Men" was watched by 2.9 million people in the US. "Mad Men" definitely has mass market name recognition and media coverage... and about as many people in the US are playing WoW as watching "Mad Men"!


mass market USED to be a about percentage of total available actively involved in a transaction.... some how its been "reimagined" to mean " just knowledge of it"

virtuality trumps reality....for a bad "truth"

there is no try.. only DO. - yoda

brinda allen

Medium length story...

I came to SL from no where. I bought my first PC in February 2007 at age 65, joined SL May 2 same year.

Secondlife is not easy...you want easy go to Farmville (or Staples).
I've stayed in SL because of the people I've met...people that in these last three years have taught me so much. Not because of the customer service, I've stayed for the education and yes, still the thrill.
Now I'm not nearly as smart as I think I am...but I'm a heck of a lot smarter than I look.
I will just bet I wouldn't have found people on Farmville or Facebook that would teach me how to produce a blog or use html.

Having said that...I do understand a little bit about the business world...I spent nearly 50 years working in that world.
A business that stops catering to it's base fails. period. end


"A business that stops catering to it's base fails. period. end"

ah. i hear you. but alas that is no longer the thinking -today -

machines run no matter - as long as they can- until the fuel is gone... and we fleshbots are the new fuel. not oil;)

today we dont celebrate the making of products or services, but only the making of the "corporations" that "say they do that for us"..

metaplace- playdom - disney for 500-700 million is a good example...

broadcast,com to yahoo (mark cuban) another example of very little "base" of any satisifed "customers"--cause were not customers.. were free workers.. once called slaves before wiki changed the definition:)

making corporate myths for sale, not building worlds.

all of "our worlds value" will be wiped, as clean and fast as any there/metaplace before.

those who kept others in managed dissaray, will continue in the next pyramid scheme, those who could build the pyramids, kept in gangs, and allowed to be buried closer to the pharaohs...
and awarded badges....;)

brinda allen

@ cube3
Darn it...I so wish you weren't likely correct.
I tend to forget the Pharaohs did get buried in the pyramids.
{and the next Pharaoh just built another pyramid...:-(( }

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Sigh. Whenever I hear or read "Second Life needs to be able to run on netbooks/low end hardware", I wish I had the skills to do a parody featuring a stick figure version of Second Life. There may be an "uncanny valley", but there's a huge plain of disbelief way too heavy to suspend at the other end.

Ann Otoole InSL

save SL. Make a new user tutorial that pays them for each achievement of learning the mandatory aspects of SL. When they complete the full tutorial they get 1000 credits (not L$) that can be spent at a special store that has current stuff provided by a lot of participating merchants. Then they can customize their looks and go forth and play.

Ann Otoole InSL

Hamlet wrote: (Wow, thousands to handle World of Warcraft customer support? I would have guessed in the high hundreds.) "

Imagine how much customer support staff LL would have if they gave free unfettered use of a full region to qualified people in exchange for 20 hours a week of support.


i just saw this today in a link sent out by a indie tv host....

George Carlin's "last"? Show.HBO? maybe. How could some one so old- hes dead.....lol know so much about GAMESZ.?;)


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